After the coronavirus pandemic forced restaurants to temporarily close in mid-March, Duncan Produce was faced with the possibility it could lose most of its customer base.
Owner Casey Duncan found a way to retain employees and sustain operations by expanding the wholesale business to include direct-to-consumer sales via a drive-thru at the company’s facility in Greenacres.
Drive-thru business was brisk, prompting Duncan Produce to expand again with a home delivery service that launched last week, serving residents within an 18-mile radius of its facility at 69 S. Henry Road.
“We have done over 60 deliveries so far,” Duncan said in a phone call Tuesday. “We deliver wholesale to restaurants as well, so we went and bought a second van for home deliveries.”
Founded in 1969 by John Duncan, Casey’s grandfather, Duncan Produce has 16 employees. The company sells nearly 100 grocery items, including a variety of vegetables, fruit, meat, bread, eggs and dairy products.
Duncan Produce is offering home delivery service on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with a $25 minimum order.
Customers can place orders via duncanproduce.com or the company’s smartphone app a day prior to the desired delivery date.
Employees will contact customers on the delivery date to arrange a drop-off time. Customers can prepay for orders with a credit card, or pay with cash or Venmo upon delivery.
Duncan Produce recently added home delivery service on Wednesdays to Coeur d’Alene and Hayden because of consumer demand, Duncan said.
The company sources produce from area farmers and distributors that also provide food to grocery stores. A key difference between the company and competitors is that it cuts and processes produce in-house, Duncan said.
“It’s a good niche that we have – not only being local, but (our produce) is fresher, too,” he said. “Customers are getting it sooner because it’s not sitting on grocery store shelves.”
Fresh-cut vegetables, chicken, ground beef and a fajita mix with onions and peppers have been top sellers so far, Duncan said.
The grocery delivery industry is poised for strong growth as more consumers are shopping online during the coronavirus pandemic. Revenue from online grocery sales is expected to increase more than 72% this year as consumers opt for contactless delivery by industry operators, according to IBISWorld, a Los Angeles-based market research firm.
Wholesale business is steady for Duncan Produce, which plans to continue offering drive-thru pickup and home delivery as long as there is customer demand, Duncan said.
Duncan said he may consider expanding the company’s delivery service area, schedule and routes, but he’s “playing it week by week.”
“Everybody here at Duncan Produce is really grateful for the people in this community who have kept us going through the pandemic,” Duncan said. “Hopefully, we can continue doing what we are doing and expand our (service) area for customers.”
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